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Political news

People living outside UK cannot vote in Assembly elections

People from Northern Ireland living outside the UK cannot vote in the Assembly election, despite being able to do so for Westminster and European polls. Picture by Rui Vieira/PA Wire

PEOPLE from Northern Ireland living outside the UK will not be able to vote in the assembly election, despite being permitted to do so in Westminster and European polls.

The Electoral Commission said the discrepancy exists because the assembly elections use the local government electoral register.

People living outside the UK, but who have been on the north's electoral register within the past 15 years, can register as 'overseas voters'.

However, this only entitles them to vote in Westminster and European elections, and not in the assembly or council polls.

Those who are temporarily elsewhere - including in the Republic - but are normally resident and registered to vote at their home address in the north are still entitled to vote by proxy or post.

But they must complete the postal ballot before going away as postal votes for the upcoming assembly election can only be sent to those living at addresses in the UK.

Those who have lived elsewhere for more than 15 years are not eligible to vote in any elections in the UK.

A spokesman for the Electoral Commission said: "Anyone living overseas who wishes to register as an 'overseas voter' must have been resident in Northern Ireland (or elsewhere in the UK) at some point in the last 15 years.

"As an overseas elector you can vote in UK parliamentary and European parliamentary elections.

"However you cannot vote in local council elections or elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly as they use the local government electoral register."

The deadline for postal and proxy vote applications, which can be obtained through the Electoral Office website, is 5pm on Friday February 10.

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